Archive for the sustainability Category

NAFTA, “Free Trade” and the TPP: Fast-Track To Full Corporate Rule

Posted in activism, analysis, Canada, capitalism, Chomsky, civil liberties, class, collapse, consciousness, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, coup, crisis of democracy, deep integration, democracy, democratic deficit, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, FTAA, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, imperialism, jobs, labour, Mexico, money, Mussolini, must-read, NAFTA, nation state, national democracies, NAU, peace, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, politics, Security and Prosperity Partnership, sociology, sovereignty, SPP, sustainability, tipping point, trade, truth, U.S., war on democracy, WEF, World Economic Forum, WTO with tags , , , , on November 6, 2013 by jtoddring

The TPP In A Nutshell: Growing corporate power and the death of freedom

The FTA, NAFTA, the WTO, the WEF, the SPP, and now, the TPP – it is all a further drive for increasing global corporate power, and we should be very concerned. This should not need to be spelled out. The situation is becoming critical. Here is some background and context.

“Twenty years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law. At the time, advocates painted a rosy picture of booming U.S. exports creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and economic development in Mexico, which would bring the struggling country in line with its wealthier northern neighbors. Two decades later, those promises have failed to materialize. U.S. trade deficits with both Canada and Mexico have surged, crippling domestic industries, prompting massive job displacement and the replacement of living wage union jobs with jobs in sectors with low pay, minimal benefits and no job security.”

– Expose the TPP

 

What have been called “free trade” agreements are more accurately called corporate rights agreements, as Chomsky and others have said. And these agreements have helped to de-industrialize the US and Canada while shifting production to Mexico and other cheap labour offshore locations, such as India and China, wiping out the bulk of the middle class at home in the process, while leaving the great majority around the world in poverty as well, and generally benefiting only a small elite. Continuing in this course would clearly be disastrous for the vast majority of the people world-wide.

NAFTA, CAFTA, the FTAA, the WTO, the WEF, the SPP, the ECB and the Fed, and now, the TPP – all of these are treaties and organizational structures which represent the enthronement of the global corporate elite as the de facto rulers of the world, as the London Financial Times itself has said. They represent, in essence, a set of treaties between big business and governments, in which governments yield and cede their power to the trans-national corporate elite who already dominate the global economy, the major media and the political process and governments of most nations in the world today.

What this represents is the merger of business and the state, which as Mussolini himself said, is the very definition of fascism. What we are seeing is the destruction of both democracy and freedom, as well as human rights, constitutional law and civil liberties, under a global corporatist rule of increasingly stark neo-feudalism.

And if that were not already bad enough, we should also recognize that the people do not even benefit economically. Such moves benefit the few at the top, while the middle class is eliminated, the sea of poverty grows as the great majority of the people are driven into a growing underclass, inequality skyrockets, and a police state is constructed to keep the increasingly discontent masses silent and obedient, suppressed, subjugated, and neutralized – meaning effectively, neutered.

This is not even mentioning the utterly disastrous effects that our new global empire of corporate feudalism is having on the environment and the prospects for any kind of future for human life on earth.

Say no to the TPP and corporate rule, or say hello to a new and hellish form of Babylon, and an accelerating race towards a collective suicide.

J. Todd Ring,
November 6, 2013

Anarchism, capitalism, democracy and common sense

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, American politics, analysis, anarchism, banks, capitalism, China, class, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, ecological crisis, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, health care, human rights, hybrid, inspiration, Jefferson, Lenin, libertarian socialism, libertarianism, media analysis, money, must-read, neo-feudalism, oil, Orwell, peace, people's movements, philosophy, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, politics of oil, propaganda, psychology, resources, social theory, socialism, sociology, sovereignty, sustainability, the world's other superpower, tipping point, truth, U.S., war, war crimes, war on democracy on October 25, 2013 by jtoddring

I am not inclined toward market anarchy, or anarchist capitalism, as I see it as being both non-viable, since capitalism without restraints invariably breeds monopoly capitalism, which is no longer capitalism in the sense of a free market, but a form of feudalism, since the few end up dominating and ruling over the rest; and because capitalism is based upon a two-tiered society of the owners of production, in Marxist terms, the people who have an unequal share of economic power, and hence also, social, cultural and political power, and those who must work for them in order to survive; and thus, capitalism is based upon the need (of the many, not the few) to rent yourself out for money, which is degrading and dehumanizing, as well as antithetical to freedom.

Renting yourself out for money was called wage slavery by Abraham Lincoln and others who opposed it. A more stark and honest term for what it means to rent yourself out for money is simply prostitution.

Unless you want to be a slave – or a slave master, if you are both lucky and also supremely unethical – or you are simply lost in confused thinking and illusions, you cannot support capitalism in any form: at least, not without strong legislation such as labour laws, minimum wage standards, workplace safety requirements, environmental protocols, and above all, anti-trust legislation to prevent and break up monopolies.

If you want capitalism, if you want an economic system and a society based upon wage slavery – though I do not see why any sane person would – then at the very least, you have to put restraints on it: you have to chain the beast, or it will devour you.

You certainly cannot support a form of capitalism that strips capital, and the controllers of capital, of all restraints – unless you are either a self-deluded ideologue, or you are a member of the business elite, or a wanna-be member of this class.

So I would say that the idea of market anarchy, or anarchist capitalism, is one that is propounded by two groups: the deluded, and the cynically dishonest and self-serving.

Of course the business elite like the idea of eliminating all government oversight and restraints on their actions. It would mean total freedom for them – freedom to loot and pillage at will, to play one nation, state, province and community against another in a race to the bottom, with ever lower wages and working conditions, and ever lower environmental standards, and by these and other means, to gather even more of the wealth, resources and power on the planet into their hands, even more rapidly and frantically than they are already doing.

The corporate elite also favour the elimination, not only of all governmental restrictions on their actions – although they are quite keen to push for a police state to restrain the actions of the people, and to further secure their power and their de facto rule; they also strongly favour the elimination of all social safety nets and all government programs that help the poor and unemployed.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, social programs that help the people cost money – and the corporate elite would rather their multi-billion and trillion dollar state subsidies increase; therefore, programs that help the people must be slashed and eliminated – the welfare state is supposed to provide for the rich, not the masses.

Secondly, and more essentially, the welfare state, and all social safety nets and social programs that help the poor and the unemployed, must be slashed and eliminated, so that the people will be driven to desperation, and will welcome their corporate masters, and beg to be shackled and chained for a mere few cents an hour, or a few crumbs of bread.

The business elite like to talk amongst themselves and in the business press about what they call pampered Western workers. They like Chinese workers much better, as the offshoring of production and the deindustrialization of the West make abundantly clear. They do not want to pay $30 or $40 an hour for labour, or even $10, or $7.50 an hour for a wage slave in North America or Europe, when they can get one for $1 an hour in Mexico, or $0.10 an hour in China. Destroying social programs and safety nets means that Western workers can be trained to accept Chinese standards of pay – which is to say, social programs and safety nets must be destroyed in order to make the pampered Western workers more compliant and malleable serfs.

The other means of creating an ultra-low cost labour pool is through slavery, and that is being vigorously pursued by the reigning corporate powers as well – it is called the prison system. Prison labour is a rapidly growing out-sourcing choice for large, profitable corporations. With prison labour, you can pay workers just pennies an hour, and if they get out of line, you can get the guards to beat them to a pulp.

But to return to the driving down of wages and benefits across the West…

This is the primary reason for the so-called austerity programs being foisted on the people, purportedly for their own good, and the reason for the attack on the welfare state and all social programs across the Western world: free the corporations of the bondage of having to pay wages that people can live on, by driving the people to utter desperation, where they can be more easily manipulated, and exploited on a greater scale, for the increased profits of the already astronomically rich few. It is a grand and noble vision indeed.

But the main attack on government is an attack by big business on government regulations applying to big business. (They are happy to see red tape, high taxes and bureaucratic hurdles thrown up for small business, but they want a fast-track and a back door, with zero restrictions and zero taxes for themselves. Taxes, laws and regulations are for the little people.) The business elite do not want government restrictions on their actions. They want the subsidies and the bailouts and the protection of an increasingly militarized police state and a welfare state for the rich, but they do not want any restrictions on their own actions. Fascism for the people, total freedom for the elite – that is what the corporate oligarchs who rule the world today want, and that is what we are rapidly being driven into, like corralled cattle, being herded down the cattle chute.

While the elimination of government would mean total freedom for the corporate elite, it would mean total subjugation under neo-feudal corporate rule for the rest of us, and therefore we should oppose it – vigorously and passionately.

If you want to abolish government, you had better abolish all great concentrations of economic power first, or you will not have anarchism, much less freedom – you will simply have unfettered corporate rule, and a new form of tyranny.

So no, I do not support market anarchism or anarchist capitalism. I would tend to favour libertarian socialism, or anarchist socialism, where collectivism and anti-statism come together in a valuing of both freedom and mutual aid, as Kropotkin, Rocker, Bookchin, Bertrand Russell, Chomsky and others have argued for. In the short term, however, I would be happy simply to see a government that truly is, of the people, by the people, for the people, and not simply a servant of ruthless corporate powers and the super-rich.

I do not believe that a truly free society is even attainable without a very strong degree of mutual aid and solidarity among the people, which is absolutely necessary to accomplish the goal of a free society. So freedom and mutual aid must go hand in hand. To dream of it being otherwise is sheer fantasy.

How we blend and balance freedom and mutual aid, or liberty and collectivism, is the question. Whether or not we must, is a non-issue.

*

The seizure of corporate property by the workers, or by the people otherwise, at the local level, I do see as frequently if not generally justified, and Rothbard gives some good examples, such as workers taking over any and all corporations that are tied to the military-industrial complex, since they are involved in mass murder, among other reasons.

We can also look to the example of Argentina, where workers took over factories and ran them themselves, very successfully, as the documentary, The Take, revealed.

Or we can look to the Spanish Revolution, which was a largely anarchist revolution. The anarchist experiment in Spain, which lived between 1936 and 1939, I believe, was extremely successful, and could certainly be repeated elsewhere, but it would take great international solidarity to keep it alive in the face of the predictable backlash by the presently reigning vested interests.

As Chomsky has said, what the elite fear most, is the threat of a good example. For that reason, any example of worker control or workplace democracy, of any alternative to elite corporate rule, will be viciously attacked, no matter how small or remote. We must be prepared for that; but that is not an insurmountable obstacle to real social change. The people always have the real power. They simply need to realize it, and act upon the fact.

The anarchist revolution in Spain unfortunately ended up being crushed by an alliance between Western business elites, Western governments and the Soviet Union – Bolsheviks despise worker control just about as much as capitalists do. (Lenin destroyed the worker councils immediately upon seizing power, and Kropotkin declared after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia, that the revolution is dead. But the example of a successful anarchist revolution, and a proven successful anarchist-socialist model for an advanced industrial society, still lives, and it still offers a better alternative, by far, over what we have now.

But to return to the subject of appropriation – or reclamation, as it might better and more accurately be called – there are other good reasons which justify such actions, and make them entirely legitimate, aside from the ones mentioned by Rothbard.

First of all, if what is nominally called private property was gained through illegitimate means, then all claim to title is null and void. For example, if an armed band of thugs rolls into town, and steals all that the people have or possess at gun point, we would say they have no right to that property. If one nation sends in its military to seize the oil or other resources of people in a foreign land, then that nation has no legitimate claim to such property. If a slave owner amasses a great fortune by means of the labour of his slaves, then he has no right to that property, which is more justly the property of the slaves who produced that wealth – cotton for example, or sugar cane, and the revenues from it – and not the slave master who illegitimately lays claim to it. And there are less obvious reasons for the invalidation of claims to property rights, such as great imbalances of power. In essence, all of these examples involve the exploitation of an imbalance of power to acquire wealth, and the imbalance of power makes all such claims to property acquired through these means, null and invalid.

That is the case generally for large concentrations of wealth and economic powers, such as the big corporations have today – for reasons of imbalances of power, and special favours sought by means of what is essentially bribery to political candidates, through what is euphemistically called election financing, among other reasons. The claims of property rights on the part of the corporate giants are highly dubious at best, and in reality, groundless, invalid and illegitimate.

Of course, this raises fears and even terror in some, for fear that their property will not be regarded as sacrosanct. Where do we draw the line between legitimate property rights, and appropriation or reclamation of what are reasonably viewed as illegitimate claims on property or resources, is the question we must ask. We draw lines all the time, and it is not hard to imagine a reasonable balance being sought and found. For example, leaving all small and medium businesses intact, as well as all family farms, family homes and personal possessions, but endorsing and supporting an appropriation or reclaiming of resources and assets which are presently held by the largest corporations, forthwith to be held as the shared property of the people – just as we now share public parks and public roads, public libraries and public fire departments – with shares in these corporation distributed equally to the people (and full voting shares, of course).

This would break up the corporate giants, immediately strip them of their excessive powers, put some teeth in anti-trust measures, and most essentially, would bring an immediate end to the domination over the global economy, the political process and the media by the presently ruling corporate elite. And it would once again restore some semblance of equality and also accountability within our society, and would at the same time dramatically increase the justice in our society, and also the quality of life and well-being of the people, immeasurably. I would therefore urge that such steps be taken immediately.

And it does not have to be an all or nothing scenario. We could start with the worst offenders, the banks, for example. If you want to dethrone Wall Street, and reign in the banking elite, and thereby get money out of politics, as any sane person should want today, then break up the big banks. And what are you going to do with them, one might ask. Well, one option is to do just what I have described here: seize their assets, and distribute shares of ownership equally among the people, effectively turning them into democratically controlled co-ops, with dividends paid directly to the people.

You do not let such corporate criminals get away with such crimes, nor do you give them a mere slap on the wrist. They are said to be too big to fail. Well, they are too big to exist – unless they are controlled by the people. Confiscate their assets, and return the power to the people.

Six giant banks now dominate the entire American economy, as well as both major political parties. Seize these powers, and put them in the hands of the people, and you will have a revolution – and real social change.

And we can have a mixed economy. We do not have to move too fast, if that scares people. Look at Europe – mixed economies are the norm. Most European nations have universal public health care, which is essentially a socialist feature of their society, yet they have democratic governments, constitutions, freedom and civil liberties, and they have capitalist, market-based economies. Adopting a universal public health care system did not turn these countries into Communist regimes, no matter what the paranoid right may scream. They are mixed economies with essentially republican governments and market economies. We can drop the paranoia now.

Despite the red scare tactics and the misunderstandings, having a socialist medical system has not turned European nations into Stalinist regimes, or anything remotely of the sort. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of Americans have wanted a Canadian or European style health public health care system for decades – and it is half as costly as the for-profit private health care system of the United States. But this is an aside.

So we could easily imagine a mixed economy where we have excellent social programs, such as universal pensions, unemployment insurance and public health care, a market-based economy, open and transparent constitutional democracy with rights and freedoms for all enshrined in law and custom, and also have large sectors of the economy run as worker co-ops or publicly owned co-ops; run, not by the state, but by boards of directors and chief executives that are elected by the people directly, with the people being the majority or even the sole share-holders.

We are talking about taking giant, unwieldy, unaccountable and undemocratic corporations which are now out of control and running rampage, and turning them into accountable, democratically run co-ops, owned and controlled directly by the people. This would make a dramatic, and much needed, urgently needed change to our society. I see no reason to delay.

So yes, re-appropriation, or a reclaiming of resources by the people from the corporate oligarchs who have seized them and laid claim to them, is not only entirely justified and legitimate – it is also highly practical, workable, and an attainable goal which should be sought without delay.

In fact, I would say that if we do not take such measures, and soon, then the corporate elite will consolidate their power globally, with the results being that we find ourselves living in an Orwellian, technocratic, neo-feudal fascist regime, and a very dark age.

We must take bold steps now, to protect the people and ourselves from the clear and mounting threats of a full-blown corporate fascism. When six banks control 40% of the wealth of America; when six corporations control 90% of American media and can effectively manipulate the public mind; when Wall Street and the Fortune 500 fund the elections and effectively choose the political puppets of their liking; and when and a few dozen corporations, mainly banks, effectively control the global economy and rule the world, as a recent Swiss study showed, in a case of science confirming the obvious, then it is time for a bold and unhesitating response on the part of the people, without question.

Furthermore, with regards to claims of property rights: abuses of any great power also render all claim to that power null and void, as the Declaration of Independence states – and this applies to economic powers, such as those held by the business elite and the corporate giants, every bit as much as it applies to kings and queens, governments and political powers. If you abuse it, you lose it. And the corporate giants and the billionaire class who control them, are most definitely abusing their power.

A tax on tea sparked the American Revolution – it was a last, final insult, after myriad insults and injuries by an oppressive and tyrannical power. Such a tipping point is fast approaching again, when the people will say, No more, and the corporate empires will be swept aside, like so many empires that have fallen and been cast off in the past.

*

So I would say no to market anarchism, or anarchist capitalism, but yes to the people reclaiming the resources and assets that are held by the big corporations: for reasons of justice and equitability, for reasons of accountability, for reasons of environmental stewardship and the survival of the human race on earth, which is now in great peril, and because the corporate powers have become, and are now, simply tyrannical, by any reasonable definition or meaning of the word, and are causing great injury to the people as well as the earth on which we all depend for life.

If Thomas Jefferson could argue that a tax on tea is overly vexatious and justifies a revolution – I am exaggerating somewhat of course, to make a point, but we get the point of it – then surely today there is every justification for revolution against the new tyrants,  who are the reigning global billionaire class of the super-rich, and the giant corporations they control – who are infinitely more injurious to the people than King George ever dared to dream.

Two hundred years ago Thomas Jefferson warned that the corporations, and what he called the new moneyed aristocracy who controlled them, were already bidding defiance to our laws and challenging our democratic government to a contest of strength. And he said that he hoped the new moneyed aristocracy shall be killed in its infancy. He did not mince words, nor did he have any illusions as to the great dangers which confronted the people. We did not listen however, and that is why we are in trouble today. By now, any further delay in putting serious checks and balances on the new ruling super-powers of the corporate elite, would be nothing short of disastrous.

The powers and the abuse of powers, of and by the King of England, pale in comparison to the powers and the abuse of powers of and by the Bank of America or Goldman Sachs alone. It is time to dethrone the new tyrants. It is time to kick the corporate oligarchs out of the palace and into the streets – certainly out of government, and out of their present position as the de facto world government, and the unelected rulers of the world, as the business press itself calls them.

(The business elite prefer to call themselves the masters of the universe – and no, I am not joking – and their demonstrated egomania, power-lust and sheer madness only adds to the reasons to throw them from power.)

Gentleness is the best general rule, but there is a time for boldness. There is a time for the ferocity of a lion. And there is a time for the overturning of tables. Throw the money changers from the temple. They have overstepped their proper bounds, and have made themselves a menace. They must be deposed. And the most direct and effective way to dethrone this newest ruling class of would-be emperors, Caesars and Tsars who are the global corporate elite, is to reclaim their assets, and thereby to strip them of the very basis of their powers.

If a person on a rooftop with a rifle starts shooting at people, you disarm that person, and stop the violence. The big corporations and the business elite who control them are now wielding vast and unaccountable powers, which is reason enough to strip them of such powers; and in addition, they are demonstrably wreaking havoc, destruction and great suffering on the earth and upon the people. Therefore, they must be disarmed. And the only way to effectively disarm them, or to reign them in and halt their drive to fully dominate and control the global economy and the resources, the wealth and the nations of the world, which they are well on their way to doing, as anyone who is paying attention can clearly see; as well as to prevent them from destroying democracy completely, and to halt their clearly suicidal onslaught against nature and the earth, is to strip them of their powers – which means, stripping them of their assets.

It must be done. The people must reclaim their power. And no, Lenin, you were wrong, and we will not repeat your mistakes. No, this time, the revolution must come from below, and power must be returned to the people, and kept close to the people, at the level of the grassroots, and not in the hands of any ruling class or ruling elite of any kind – be it a political elite, a bureaucratic elite, a military elite, a religious elite, a self-proclaimed intellectual elite, or a business elite.

Freedom will come. And it will mean more than being able to choose between Coke or Pepsi, or choosing between which slavers will shackle your legs and make you their wage-slave.

A new day is being born. The writing is on the wall.

Stand now, people.

J. Todd Ring,
October 24, 2013

Mexico City: A study in impermanence, and a lesson to us all

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, anthropology, collapse, consciousness, conservation, crash, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, empowerment, end-game, global warming, Mexico, must-read, political economy, politics, politics of oil, post-carbon, social theory, sociology, sustainability, tipping point, truth with tags , , on October 19, 2013 by jtoddring

pablo lopez luz photographs the concrete waves (or carpet, as he puts it) of Mexico City

 

The unbelievably sprawling concrete carpet of Mexico City seen in these photos make me think… Gorgeous country, beautiful culture and people, horrible government, amazing capital city – but utterly unsustainable, as most cities are. Watch for the ruins – like those in Palenque or Tikal, the ruins of the fallen, once-great cities of the Maya, now covered over by jungle.

Watch for the ruins of most of our present sprawling modern cities, as the people flee the collapsing infrastructure, brought on by our own unwillingness to live in ecological balance.

Sayonara.

Return to nature? We will soon have no choice. As Matt Stein, Ronald Wright, Jared Diamond, David Suzuki and many others have told us, we are bringing on a collapse of our civilization, due to our ecological neglect. We will go back to nature, and learn once again to live more simply, as well as more richly, rest assured. Some of us will do it voluntarily, and with foresight. Others will be forced into it, by necessity as infrastructure breaks down.

Foresight is always the wiser path.

The work to protect nature and all life on earth must go on, of course, and so too must we work towards a sustainable society, both sociologically and ecologically. But we must now also man the life boats. The ship is sinking. Of that, there is no longer any doubt. Human beings will carry on, but not without some major challenges ahead. It is time to face the music, and deal with the facts as they are, and not as we wish them to be.

J. Todd Ring,
October 18, 2013

Say sayonara to seafood – the oceans are no longer safe to eat from in the wake of Fukushima

Posted in analysis, disaster, ecological crisis, environment, food, health, nuclear, renewable, science, sustainability, video, wellness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2013 by jtoddring

It looks like sushi time is over – seafood is no longer safe to eat after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Fukushima continues to dump 300-400 tons of radioactive contaminated water into the Pacific every hour.

Japanese experts estimate Fukushima’s fallout at 20-30 times as high as the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings in 1945.

Polar bears in Alaska are losing their hair and showing skin burns from radiation poisoning.

Pacific herring from Canadian waters are hemorrhaging and bleeding from their eyes. Of the 100 herring examined, all were bloody.

Thyroid disease, thyroid cancer and testicular cancer are among the greatest risks to humans from radiation poisoning.

Stop eating seafood now – at least from the Pacific. Eat seaweed or take seaweed capsules or powder to naturally protect against radiation.

Certain herbs that have been used safely for centuries have been shown to support proper thyroid function as well: Echinacea, Siberian ginseng, lemon balm (which makes a great iced or hot tea), licorice, black walnut and the amazingly healing flax seed. It would be wise now to include these in our diets, along with sea vegetables, green tea and antioxidant-rich foods.

Sad but true: one nuclear accident, and the entire Pacific is poisoned. No more nukes. Have we learned our lesson yet?

http://banoosh.com/blog/2013/08/27/at-the-very-least-your-days-of-eating-pacific-ocean-fish-are-over/

The real reasons for threats of war against Syria

Posted in American politics, analysis, Barack Obama, Brzezinski, China, collapse, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, elite, empire, end-game, fossil fuel, geopolitics, imperialism, nuclear war, nuclear weapons, Obama, oil, peace, policy, political economy, politics, politics of oil, resources, Russia, smedley butler, sovereignty, sustainability, Syria, war, war crimes, war on democracy, War on Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by jtoddring

(that the mass media won’t tell you about)

1. The Middle East holds 60% of the world’s remaining energy reserves: therefore, the entire region is critical to control – for anyone with an empire fetish, that is. And if you’re serious about controlling the Middle Eastern oil reserves, then you must control, not just the oil-rich nations, but also the nations surrounding them.

2. Washington has played the role of “gangster for capitalism” – to use General Smedley Butler’s term – for a very long time. Washington is the hired thug for the global banking and corporate elite – and they want to control the entire Middle East, because oil profits are simply astronomical.

3. The banking and corporate elite who control Washington also love war, since war is also astronomically profitable to them – and they don’t care that it is disastrous to human life, the environment or national economies.

4. The Middle East is the linch-pin to the entire Eurasian continent (as well as a major key to controlling mineral-rich Africa). Eurasia holds the majority of the world’s population and resources. And historically, whoever controls Eurasia, dominates the world. Controlling the Middle East is therefore seen as critical, as the leading geo-strategic planner for the Western power elite, Zbigniew Brzezinski has said explicitly (see, The Grand Chessboard).

5. The US and Europe are in severe and deepening economic crisis, and also, in a severe and growing political crisis, as the people become increasingly frustrated by growing inequality, poverty and insecurity. And as Orwell described so accurately, perpetual war is a way to distract the people from their problems at home, and to deflect anger away from governments and powers at home, onto a vilified “other.” How did the ruling elite control the rabble of Europe in the Middle Ages when famine, hunger and injustice fuelled the fires of discontent? Send them off on a holy war, a crusade, and let them vent their anger at an official “enemy” – any enemy: anybody, anywhere, just so long as the anger is deflected off of us. The same principle applies today.

6. While the Western powers face a growing and profound crisis of legitimacy at home (just as the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc did before its collapse), they – the US and Europe and the Western business elite – are sinking globally, in relative terms, and are losing their global dominance as the rising super-powers of China, India, Russia, Brazil and other BRIC nations continue to gain ground. The Western business elite apparently see the global domination game as a winner-take all scenario, and they are not planning to lose – no matter what the stakes, the cost, the death toll, or the risk to life on earth.

The risks and costs of war against Syria? Extreme.

  1. Great human death toll.
  2. Further moral bankruptcy of the US government and its allies and further erosion of their credibility at home and abroad.
  3. Further squandering of huge sums of money on death and destruction while people go hungry and homeless, and jobs, social programs, economic recovery and environmental programs go begging and get only lip service, hollow rhetoric, empty promises and token gestures for the sake of PR.
  4. Serious risk that war with Syria may lead to the involvement of Russia and/or China – with the very real danger of the outbreak of World War III. Russian and Chinese high officials have said that any violation by the US of any nation’s sovereignty would not be tolerated, and “all options are on the table” – which means nuclear war.

The insanity of further intensification of warfare in the Middle East could not be greater. Stop this madness now. Speak up.

When Washington stops killing innocent men, women, children and civilians with drone strikes in countries around the world, then, perhaps, it may begin to have some moral ground for speaking against another country. It certainly has no right to bomb or attack another country, hypocrisy aside.

Stop the insanity now. No to war with Syria.

J. Todd Ring,
August 28, 2013

Top Priorities of the 21st Century

Posted in activism, analysis, class, common ground, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, ecological crisis, ecology, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, food, freedom, genetic engineering, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, GMOs, healing, health, imperialism, inspiration, must-read, neo-feudalism, nuclear war, peace, people's movements, police state, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, sociology, sustainability, war, war on democracy with tags on June 5, 2013 by jtoddring

If I were asked what I felt were the top priorities facing human beings today, in the 21st century, I would have to say there are four that top the list, in my mind.

1. Halt the global corporate coup. Defeat the corporate war on democracy, which is now escalating daily, and take democracy back. Take the power back, and put it in the hands of the people, where it belongs. Elite rule has never worked, and by now it is a rapidly unfolding disaster of unprecedented proportions. (If we fail at this, we fail at everything. Restoring power to the people is necessary before any of our problems – social, economic or environmental – can be seriously addressed.)

2. End war, stop the global slaughter and the wars of empire and greed, and prevent catastrophic nuclear or biochemical warfare.

3. Create a sustainable society now. Working at the level of the personal, the community, the local, national and international, we must halt environmentally destructive patterns and create new (or old) and more sustainable systems, infrastructure and ways of living.

4. Go organic, and say no to genetically modified foods, which threaten human and animal health, the environment, and the entire future of food production on earth. Fuel the organic revolution now, and ensure a safe and reliable food supply for human beings that is based on compassion, respect for all beings, ecological awareness, the precautionary principle and common sense.

These, I believe, are the most urgent issues we face at present. But whatever our area of focus, the most important point is that we act. We cannot afford to be mere spectators. Unite the people, inspire and empower the people and ourselves, and act together for the common good. This is what must be done, and now.

As Chomsky said, with his usual lucidity, “The future holds ominous portent, and signs of great hope. What we make of the opportunities, is largely up to us.”

It is still possible for us to create a beautiful, safe, just and peaceful world. If we have no courage or will to do it for our own sake, then we should, and must, at least do it for the children of the world. They deserve a decent future.

The power is in the hands of the people, as it has always been. Now, what are we going to do about it?

JTR,
June 5, 2013

The Mayans, the ecological crisis and the end of the world: a little sanity please

Posted in analysis, anthropology, books, collapse, consciousness, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, environment, history, political philosophy, politics, science, sustainability, tipping point, world religions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2012 by jtoddring

It seems like a lot of people are going to extremes with regards to the Mayan predictions – and I mean the skeptics as well as the fanatics. Some are dismissive of the Mayans altogether, while others are taking a very literal and grossly overly simplistic view, and thinking the world will end on a specific day in the near future: December 21, 2012. The Mayans never said anything of the sort – and at the same time, they were also far too intelligent, thoughtful and sophisticated in their understanding of the cycles of time for us to dismiss them altogether.

The Mayan prophecies do not speak of the end of the world in a literal sense. The Mayans said that the world has ended four times before, so clearly, they are not talking about the end of the physical world, or even the end of the human species. They are talking about the end of a civilization – a social collapse, and the end of an era. And that is something we cannot so easily dismiss, because we have seen civilizations collapse in the past – Sumer, Easter Island, and the Mayan civilization itself, for example (the Mayan urban civilization, that is). (See Jared Diamond, Collapse, Ronald Wright, A Brief History of Progress, or Mathew Stein’s When Technology Fails.) We are also seeing our infrastructure beginning to crumble, while the environmental crisis is accelerating. Clearly, the collapse of our current civilization is not something far-fetched, but a clear and undeniable possibility – and we seem hell-bent on ensuring that it happens.

The Mayans were, furthermore, too subtle and sophisticated in their thinking with regards to the cycles or patterns of time to believe that things will come to an end in a single day, I would think. They mark the passage of time in great cycles of 500 years, and larger cycles of roughly 26,000 years. To think that the Mayans believed everything would end on a single day would seem to me like a gross over-simplification, and a serious misunderstanding. It would be akin to Christian fundamentalists taking an extremely literal reading of the Bible, and believing that the world was literally created in seven days.

I would say it would be unwise to be categorically dismissive of the BIble, just as it would be equally foolish and confused to take it on an overly simplistic or literalist reading or interpretation. The same is true for the predictions of the Maya and their rich and unparalleled calendrical knowledge and understanding of the cycles of time. We do have the intellectual capacity, one would hope, for something a little more refined and a little more subtle than a knee-jerk reaction to either reject and dismiss them out of hand, or to embrace them in a literalist and overly simplistic way.

What is likely is that the Mayans meant that December 21, 2012 would mark the beginning of the end for a certain civilization or world order – ours – and the beginning of its collapse and replacement by a new civilization. The changes that they predicted may come swiftly, but they are not likely to come all at once, in the span of a mere 24 hours. It is possible, but it is unlikely. But that doesn’t mean that the Mayans were wrong – it means we shouldn’t be so crude and sloppy in our thinking, or so presumptuous or arrogant.

Consider this. The Maya had predicted for centuries that on a given year, month and day, one cycle of 500 years would end, and another cycle of 500 years would begin. They said that on that day, the balance would shift from light being predominant, to darkness being predominant. This was a prediction that had been passed on for generations. Well, as it turned out, the prediction coincided to the day with the first conquistador stepping foot on the mainland – Cortez.

If we were to look at the last, say two thousand years of the history of the Americas, we would most certainly mark the arrival of the first conquistador on the mainland as the beginning of an entirely new and radically different era for all of the Americas. How did the Mayans foresee this great shift, and predict it for hundreds of years in advance? Surely we cannot look at this fact and then dismiss the Mayans. Somehow, they have made stunningly accurate predictions, and although we cannot understand how that was possible, it is proven beyond any doubt. To dismiss the Maya considering this, would simply be irrational in the face of the evidence.

Take acupuncture as another example: we don’t know how acupuncture works, and Western medicine is baffled by Traditional Chinese Medicine, which gave rise to acupuncture, but one thing we do know for certain: acupuncture works. It is the same with the Mayan predictions: we cannot understand how they could make such startling accurate predictions, but we know for certain that they have. Therefore, although we may not understand it, we cannot dismiss the predictions of the Maya when they have demonstrated such stunning accuracy in the past.

What is the scientific approach? The truly scientific approach would not be to say, well, nobody can predict the future, so the Mayan prophecies must be rubbish. No, the scientific approach would be to look at the actual evidence, and not make foregone conclusions. And what does the evidence say? The evidence says that somehow the Mayans were able to predict major shifts or bifurcation points, major junctures in time, with stunning accuracy. Just because this does not fit into our current theory or ideology does not mean it is wrong. The facts are the facts, and the scientific approach is not to dismiss the facts when they discomfortingly fail to conform to our theories, but to change our theory and our view to conform with the facts. Anything else is pseudo-intellectual and pseudo-scientific, and is pure bigotry and blind dogmatism and ideological fixation. The facts say that the Mayans were able to predict certain major changes in history, centuries before they happened. Our theories and our views obviously need modification. But more immediately, the facts require that we take an attitude towards the Mayan predictions which is one of curiosity and respect, and not derisive dismissiveness.

Consider another example: gravity. We know that gravity exists, and we know that it works, but scientists still don’t really understand how it works. But simply because we don’t know how gravity works doesn’t mean we say, well, gravity must not be real. Again (to belabour the point for the benefit of the chronically closed-minded and pseudo-scientific) the same is true for the Mayan predictions: we don’t know how they are possible, but we know that they were correct. Do you “believe” in gravity? No, nobody “believes” in gravity – you don’t have to: just drop an apple, or trip on the stairs, and it is proven. The broken nose and the bruised apple are proof enough. Belief has nothing to do with it. Believing or not believing in the Mayan prophecies is the same: they are proven accurate; and it is evidence, not belief, which is all that matters.

Furthermore, considering that not only the Maya, but also the Hopi, the Ojibwa, and many other native peoples have predicted essentially the same thing – that there would come a time when the people become wooden, and lose their natural feelings of empathy and compassion, caring and responsibility for one another and for the broader web of life, and that as a result, calamity would follow, and their civilization will collapse – and considering that is now obvious that we are fulfilling such predictions, it would seem very unwise to disregard their warnings. Complacency, now as always, is a much greater danger than is precaution. We don’t have to run screaming for the hills, but we do need to deal with our environmental crisis, or our civilization will surely collapse, exactly as predicted – maybe not in a single day, but over the course of the coming decades or years.

Consider the fact that other native elders are on record for having predicted, before the start of the first Persian Gulf War in Iraq, that it would be a horrible environmental disaster, as well as a humanitarian one: and they said they had had visions of a black rain falling from the sky. Well, what happened? Saddam Hussein’s troops set fire to the Kuwaiti oil wells when they retreated, and black rain fell across the region. How do we dismiss such proven predictions?

In fact, we should have listened, and prevented war with Iraq. Let those who have ears hear. Let those who have eyes see. The deaf blind will have to accept that they will continue to fall into ditches and injure themselves, for they are heedless, and cannot be guided or forewarned. Pity them for their stubbornness and ignorance.

Consider the most famous proven prediction of all, or certainly one of them. Months before the assassination of JFK, Jean Dixon repeatedly warned the White House that the president’s life was in danger. She particularly urged him not to travel to Texas during that period of time. How such things are known, we do not know – but we know that some people at least do have such fore-knowledge of events: knowledge which transcends mere perspicacity or ordinary foresight.

Consider the stories told for generations by a certain native tribe in Northern Canada about a certain lake, which they said was very evil, and which they warned the people to avoid at all costs, without exception. The native people living nearby had a prediction, a prophecy, that one day men would come and take stones from the lake, then they would use those stones, and a large bird would then fly and drop fire from the sky with material from those stones. That lake is now called Uranium Lake, and it was the site of the first uranium mined for the first nuclear weapons, and the first bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima. How is that for uncanny? If that does not send a shiver down your spine, or at least make you wonder, then as Einstein said, you are as good as dead.  How can we dismiss such fore-knowledge when it is proven beyond all doubt?

Or consider the prophecies of the Inca, which said that if the great white brother came from across the ocean carrying a cross, there would be trouble. Well, the first conquistadors came bearing crosses, and there certainly was trouble, and a lot of it.

Considering all of this and more – and this is just the briefest list of examples, and barely scratches the surface – to be dismissive of native prophecies is simply foolish, and also irrational and unscientific. We know they knew, even if we have no idea how that is possible. Our frankly racist and ethnocentric presumptions must fall in the face of the evidence. The simple fact is: prophecy works, or at least it certainly has at certain times in the past. Just as the Western medical establishment, with its severely flawed and out-dated biological-reductionist and mechanistic medical model has been forced to admit that acupuncture works, despite not being able to understand it, so too must all seriously scientific or even rational modern people admit that prophecy is real – whether that is baffling to us or not – and the Mayans in particular have proven their accuracy in these matters.

Considering the way we are undermining the basis of life on earth, and pushing our civilization to the point of collapse as a result, it would seem unwise, if not simply foolish to dismiss the Mayan predictions entirely. At the same time, to think that the world will end on a certain day this month, is in all likelihood foolish as well. The reality is somewhere in between, in all probability, and we had best heed the warnings of the Maya, and take care of our environment, or we will see, not the end of the world, but the end of the world as we know it, and the collapse of our civilization. And that may be closer than we think.

It is time for us to get it together, environmentally speaking, and make some very real and urgently needed changes now, or bear the consequences of our apathy and denial. This world order will most definitely end. But that will not be the end, but only a new beginning. And the sooner this predatory, anti-ecological, suicidal and grotesquely unjust order ends, the better.

Of course I could be wrong, and it is conceivable that the Mayans somehow foresaw a cataclysmic event that would happen on a certain day, which would wipe out our civilization – if not instantly, then over the months that follow – and many millions or billions of people with it. That would be horrific to contemplate, but it is possible – anything is possible. It is, however, extremely unlikely.

What is not unlikely however, and what is in fact absolutely certain, is that if we do not change course, we will continue to drive ourselves into the ground, through a simple lack of common sense and ecological wisdom, until our infrastructure collapses under the weight of a crisis we have created for ourselves, and our civilization itself collapses. If that happens, then billions of people will suffer greatly: and that will happen, unless we take bold and decisive action now, and without delay. But whether we see a crushing collapse of our current civilization, and have to scramble to survive afterward, and rebuild from scratch, starting with pre-industrial, medieval levels of technology, in small communities barely hanging on; or whether we make the bold moves to transform our present civilization before such a collapse, is entirely up to us.

There is no fate in this. It is a matter of choice. The power is in our hands. It is a matter now of whether we will boldly do what is obviously necessary, and make the needed changes swiftly and without delay, or whether we continue to drift on our present course until collapse hits.

We can still make a relatively peaceful transition to a new and better world, even though we will certainly have to weather a great storm of our own making which has already been set into motion; or, we can wait until change is forced upon us, in which case, the transition will be painful in the extreme.

It is our choice. Humanity will survive in either case. What is in our power to determine is how painful and traumatic, or how peaceful the transition is. But whether we make a major change, is not an option. We will do it willingly, or the environmental crisis will force it upon us.

Better to act freely, and with foresight, and now.

And you don’t have to be a prophet to see that.

JTR,
December 17, 2012